Paul Foster-Bell is not a name that should concern any of us. He is a list MP for National who has made no impact in the two or three years he has been in Parliament. Yes, he has been paid excessively for under-achievement, but that’s not abnormal in Parliament on all sides of the House, nor is it abnormal anywhere else. Some people are just riding the hog.
Yet Paul Foster-Bell’s name has been dragged out of whatever part of Bowen House it was stored in and put in lights by people who clearly want to embarrass him and his party. He hasn’t done anything particularly wrong (excepting the allegation of workplace bullying leading to people quitting his office) except to be a bit crap at everything you have to do when you are an MP.
[CORRECTED: a reliable source – no, really, I do know one – assures me this was not leaked by the parties on the Left]
Whomever in Parliament dug up the dirt on Paul Foster-Bell, whomever in Parliament leaked it to the media, whomever in Parliament is feeding the media more and more stupid details like the Captain Cook Highway idea has failed to understand this: no-one outside of Parliament cares.
In Tauranga, other than Simon Bridges and his staff, no-one cares about the machinations of Parliament or the wrestle for power between the parties there. It is irrelevant to us. Most people I encounter do not believe one party is more trustworthy than another party. In Tauranga, the people I encounter day to day think that all of you in Parliament – MPs, Parliamentary staff, party workers, all of you – are liars. People do not trust you. At all.
When Andrew Little or Grant Robertson or Anne Tolley or Paula Bennett or Nanaia Mahuta or Te Ururoa Flavell or Tood Mueller or Simon Bridges or Winston Peters visits our neighbourhood, runs a meeting in town or a clinic, afterwards if you ask the people who attended whether they can trust you: they will all say no. They don’t believe your words, they don’t believe your promises and they think you are in it for yourself.
Parliament is fixated on issues that do not matter to us.
In Tauranga, people who vote are interested in these issues: Aucklanders buying houses; immigrants who aren’t white (particularly those perceived to be from China and India); spending money on a museum; wasting money on Māori through Treaty settlements; Māori trying to get ownership of the water; what the young people are doing; drunkness on the Strand; the CBD redevelopment; the Welcome Bay/Maungatapu roundabout; not being the poor cousin to Rotorua; the health of the harbour. Many of these issues are xenophobic, pathetic, terrible and petty. But they are real to people in Tauranga, and they bear no relationship to what we hear from Parliament.
Future of Work. Doesn’t matter. Vulnerable Childrens Act and CYF restructuring. Doesn’t matter. TPPA. Doesn’t matter. Social housing. Doesn’t matter. Homelessness. Doesn’t matters. Ponytails. Doesn’t matter. Climate change. Doesn’t matter. Child abuse. Doesn’t matter. People like myself who come out to protests and marches and meetings are a rarity. The 100 or 200 people in Tauranga who give time and thought to national politics. The majority do not have time nor the desire between work, kids, family, social networks, finances, sex life, and all the other parts of our rapidly moving lives to focus on Parliament, on political parties and their dramatics.
If the desire on the Left is to win the next election, they need to close this distance. They need to close it fast. And Paul Foster-Bell is not a vehicle to do it. No-one in Tauranga is going to trust John Key and the National Party less because of these revelations. We have fear, distrust and disgust enough for all politicians in Tauranga; no revelation can genuinely add to that. If the desire is to change the government, stop playing them at a game they are better at than any other party. Give people in Tauranga a reason to look beyond themselves. Present a vision for the future. Not a policy idea, not a bribe, not a strategy, not a series of key message; a vision. A better country, and a better Tauranga,
Grow up. Anyone who cares about the Labour Party, the Greens, National, ACT, NZ First, the Māori Party, or whatever has already joined. Your parties are irrelevant. However, we might be interested in your vision.